Union Pacific Destruction of Evidence Case Confirmed

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The Colorado Court of Appeals today affirmed the verdict in the case of Aloi v. Union Pacific R.R., with a verdict in the amount of six-million dollars.

The Colorado Court of Appeals today affirmed the verdict in the case of Aloi v. Union Pacific R.R., with a verdict in the amount of six-million dollars.

The case ultimately reached the Colorado Supreme Court on the issue of destruction of evidence (Supreme Court, State of Colorado, Case No. 04SC320.) The Supreme Court found that the trial court had acted appropriately in instructing the jury with respect to the UP’s destruction of evidence, and remanded the case back to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which today affirmed the district court’s original verdict. With interest the amount owed is approximately $7.5 million, growing at a rate of $1,500 per day.

Frank Aloi was injured in the course of his work as a UP conductor in North Platte, Nebraska. A piece of defective rubber matting on a locomotive’s steps caused Mr. Aloi to fall down the stairs, crashing head long into the door, sustaining serious injuries to his head, neck, back and shoulder. Ultimately, these injuries required three surgeries (low back, right knee, and right shoulder). Mr. Aloi also suffered a traumatic brain injury in the fall.

The case was handled by Lou Jungbauer of Yaeger, Jungbauer and Barczak, a law firm with offices in Denver, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. Jungbauer contended that the UP had been negligent in violation of the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA), and had violated the Locomotive Inspection Act, (a federal safety statute which requires railroads to keep their locomotives in a safe condition), as well as federal safety regulations which require the railroad to keep its locomotive floors and walkways free from tripping hazards.

The UP denied responsibility, noting that the fall was unwitnessed, claiming that it could not have happened as alleged, and arguing that Mr. Aloi was exaggerating his injuries.

The Yaeger team conducted a thorough investigation, which revealed that an inspection report had been completed after the accident, confirming the defective matting.

When YJB requested this report, and other inspection and maintenance reports, the UP was unable to produce them. Jungbauer brought this to the court’s attention, arguing that because the UP had a legal duty not to discard or destroy relevant evidence, the judge should allow a jury instruction on the matter. The judge agreed and gave the instruction.

The UP’s appeal was based in large part on that special jury instruction. The Colorado Supreme Court decision found that in giving the instruction the district court did not abuse its discretion.

Upon hearing today’s decision Frank Aloi, the plaintiff, made the comment: "This case is more about justice than money."        

Yaeger, Jungbauer & Barczak is a law firm that has represented injured railroaders and their families for over seventy-five years.    

Contact:

Lou Jungbauer

Don Aldrich

Yaeger, Jungbauer & Barczak

800-435-7888

http://www.yjblaw.com

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Lou Jungbauer
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